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The BBC's Barnaby Phillips in Lagos
"The four countries contributing troops are expected to provide the initial equipment"
 real 28k

Thursday, 28 December, 2000, 12:35 GMT
Troops to police Guinea borders
Ecomog troops in Sierra Leone
Troops from four countries will make up the Ecomog force
West African defence chiefs have agreed to send over 1,500 troops to Guinea to patrol its borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia.


The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), meeting in Nigeria, announced 1,676 soldiers from Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal would be deployed within a month.

"They will protect the borders, facilitate the free movement of persons as well as ensure security for humanitarian agencies and refugees," said a statement from Ecowas.

Like previous regional peacekeeping missions the force will have an initial mandate of six months.

Since September there have been rebel incursions into Guinea, causing hundreds of deaths and the displacement of tens of thousands of people.

Difficult task

Equipment for the peacekeepers will initially be provided by the four countries, which are contributing troops, but Ecowas said the international community would be approached to provide support.

Guinea's borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia run through forest regions where transport and communication infrastructure is virtually non-existent.

A BBC correspondent in the region says that though West African leaders are aware of the need for urgent action to prevent the regional crisis from escalating, it will be difficult for a poorly equipped and relatively small force to carry out its mandate.

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See also:

27 Dec 00 | Africa
Troops set for Guinea
20 Dec 00 | Africa
UN finds 'lost' refugees
23 Oct 00 | Africa
Civil war fears in Guinea
15 Sep 00 | Africa
Guinea: Crisis long in the making
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